As a teenager, Dr. Gerald Joseph Yakatan began looking for a job in order to earn money on his own. He was hired at a pharmacy, which piqued his interest in pharmaceuticals. At the time, the pharmacy had a soda fountain, so he started as a soda fountain operator and was soon trained in selling over-the-counter drugs and he began learning more and more about prescriptions. Initially, Dr. Yakatan wanted to study to become a chemist, but
once he learned that chemistry was an important component of a pharmacy major, he decided to attend pharmacy school. He obtained a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science from Temple University in 1963 and 1965, respectively, and then received a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Florida in 1971.
Today, Dr. Yakatan is a pharmaceutical executive with decades of experience in pharmaceutical development, clinical trial strategy, and design and regulatory affairs. Prior to founding Irisys, he began his career as an assistant and then associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin, where he also served as pharmaceutics chair. Later, he joined Warner-Lambert and was eventually promoted to vice president for product development worldwide. In addition, Dr. Yakatan served as founder and chief executive officer at Tanabe Research Laboratories. He was also president and chief executive officer of Avanir Pharmaceuticals, where he was responsible for the development, regulatory approval, and commercialization of Abreva, and he led development efforts resulting in the new drug application submission for Nuedexta.
Throughout his career, Dr. Yakatan has been most proud of his efforts as a graduate student at the University of Florida. As the mayor of the housing village that he lived in, he was head of the married students at the university, which was about 25 percent of the
student body at the time. He was able to organize a voting group and raise enough seed money to establish a daycare center for children of married students on campus. Still in operation today, the daycare center was one of the first of its kind developed entirely by a student organization on a college campus. Outside of work, Dr. Yakatan has a long-standing commitment to community service and has been a member of the boards of directors for numerous not-for-profit organizations. In his spare time, he enjoys playing tennis, reading, and traveling. Looking toward the future, he plans to use his expertise to establish a larger pharmaceutical research and development organization.
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